DC United vs. Philadelphia Union | 2017 MLS Match Preview
D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union
2017 MLS Regular Season
RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.
Saturday, May 13 - 7 p.m. ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
For the first time since last August, the Philadelphia Union won a game. Now comes the next task: trying to build upon last week's 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls that snapped their 15-game regular-season winless streak.
While the Union (1-4-4) still have a long way to go to get back into contention, they can feel good about the fact that they're coming off two straight shutouts, thanks to a revamped backline and some big saves from goalkeeper Andre Blake. And after his first career hat trick, MLS Player of the Week CJ Sapong is looking primed for a career year — an impressive feat considering he started the season as a backup to offseason acquisition Jay Simpson.
“CJ is a very good striker who’s in good form right now,” Curtin said. “And when he’s confident, he’s as dangerous as anybody in our league.”
D.C. United have had their share of struggles this season too, going winless and goalless through their first three games, before snapping that skid with a 2-1 win over the Union at RFK Stadium on April 1. But that victory didn't exactly jumpstart their season as D.C. fell to 3-4-2 following a 1-0 home loss to Montreal last week that had head coach Ben Olsen's blood boiling.
"We looked like posers," Olsen said. "We looked like we thought it was going to be an easy day at the office, and I think we didn't have enough courage and we didn't have enough soccer."
It's no secret why D.C. United are currently just below the red line in the East. Through nine games, they've scored a conference-low nine goals and have been shut out five times.
Considering they erupted for 33 goals over the final 13 games of the 2016 season, that certainly must be hard to swallow for D.C. fans. But the Black-and-Red will hope to get an offensive boost from Patrick Mullins, who continues to work his way back from an injury that kept him out four games and limited him to a reserve role in each of the past two contests.
"They’ll come,” said Mullins, who had a couple of near-misses after coming on at halftime last week. “It’s encouraging to be in those right spots."
Another thing to keep an eye on at the opposite end of the field is goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who was a late scratch last week and will be questionable to return, along with defenders Steve Birnbaum and Sean Franklin, among others.
- Suspended: None.
- International Duty: None.
- Injury report: OUT: M - Rob Vincent (left knee meniscus), GK - Eric Klenofsky (left knee meniscus injury), M - Patrick Nyarko (hamstring injury), M/D - Nick DeLeon (lower abdominal strain); Julian Buescher (tendinitis). QUESTIONABLE: D - Steve Birnbaum (concussion), GK - Bill Hamid (groin injury); D Sean Franklin (hamstring tightness) - REPORT
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Bill Hamid (GK) - Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Taylor Kemp - Ian Harkes, Jared Jeffrey, Luciano Acosta - Lloyd Sam, Patrick Mullins, Lamar Neagle
Notes: D.C. United have failed to score in three of their last five home games (2W-2L-1D). They had previously scored in nine consecutive home games (6W-3D). ... D.C. United’s two shots on target last week was their lowest number of shots on target in their last 14 home games (they also had two last June vs. Seattle).
While Sapong has injected a shot of life into the Union's attack, questions remain about the attacking midfield spot. After arriving to preseason camp out of shape, Roland Alberg assumed the starting role a month ago but, aside from a two-goal game vs. Montreal on April 22, has failed to have a huge impact and left last week's game with a quad injury.
If Alberg can't return, the Union have few other options in that role unless Curtin tweaks the formation, moves captain Alejandra Bedoya up from his comfortable No. 8 spot, or hands the keys to rookie Adam Najem.
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: Derrick Jones (U-20 World Cup), Auston Trusty (U-20 alternate)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Joshua Yaro (shoulder surgery), M Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE – D Richie Marquez (Illness) D Ken Tribbett (left ankle sprain); M Roland Alberg (pulled quad); D Ray Gaddis (bone bruise); M Chris Pontius (bruised right foot)
Projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Andre Blake – Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Richie Marquez, Fabinho – Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin – Chris Pontius, Adam Najem, Fafa Picault – CJ Sapong
Notes: Philadelphia have failed to win in their last eight away games (5L-3D). They have been outscored 13-6 across those games. ... Sapong’s hat trick against the Red Bulls is just the third in Union franchise history. It was also Sapong’s third career multi-goal MLS game (177 league appearances, 43 goals).
Although the all-time series between the two rivals is relatively even, D.C. have only lost once at home to Philly. United have scored multiple goals in four consecutive home games against the Union.
- Overall: D.C. 8 wins, 25 goals; Philadelphia 7 wins, 26 goals; 4 draws
- In D.C. D.C. 5 wins, 18 goals; Philadelphia 1 win, 13 goals; 4 draws.
- Referee: Chris Penso
- AR1: Peter Manikowski
- AR2: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
- Fourth official: Younes Marrakchi